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The devolution of various welfare powers to Scotland has led to speculation as to what a Scottish benefits system might look like. However, analysis from David Bell suggests that Holyrood may struggle to meet the bill for existing benefits in future years, let alone new ones. 

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The Chancellor has used the Budget to limit the Scottish Government's room for manoeuvre, say David Bell, particularly through changes to Corporation Tax and the National Minimum Wage.
 
Once again, George Osborne has proved himself to be a clever politician.
 
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The Scottish Government's new capacity to borrow is a vital, if little-discussed, power. However, says Angus Armstrong, the details of how this will work may have been dodged by the Smith Commission but cannot long be avoided by the Scottish Government and HM Treasury. 
 
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What’s the fuss about austerity?
 
Is all the concern about austerity misplaced? The latest labour-market statistics published on Wednesday contained more good news. There was another increase in the employment rate, in both Scotland and the UK. Scotland’s 74.4% employment rate is at an all time high. The economic inactivity rate has fallen and is at a historic low.
 
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Income inequality in Scotland (and the UK) was low and stable throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The 1980s saw a significant increase in inequality, driven by a variety of factors. Deindustrialisation and technological change caused a fall in demand for many middle and lower-skilled occupations, and this combined with an erosion of trade union power and labour market deregulation led to a relative decline in wages at the lower end of the distribution. Financial deregulation and a reduction in top rates of income tax contributed to a rise in salaries at the upper end.
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Current discussions over the Scotland Bill have seen the Chancellor and SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson at loggerheads over the role of borrowing in national life. Gemma Tetlow of the Institute for Fiscal Studies discusses the approach of the two governments and their likely implications for taxation. 

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Talk of Scotland adopting a Scandinavian economic model usually comes with no mention of the bill but, suggests recent research, the impact of higher taxes is more complicated than it might at first appear. 
 
The Scottish Government holds up the Scandinavian economic model as one this country might emulate.
 
The focus is typically on the good news of more and better public services, with little comment on higher levels of taxation to pay for them.
 
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The suggestion by the SNP that success at the Westminster election provides a mandate for devolution of the National Minimum Wage may create some unexpected complications, says David Eiser.
 
The SNP believes that the scale of its victory at the General Election amounts to a mandate for the devolution of further powers (beyond those recommended by the Smith process) to the Scottish Parliament. In particular, they have called for devolution of powers over the minimum wage, both in their election manifesto and in subsequent announcements.
 
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  • 22nd January 2019

    The UK is increasingly polarised by Brexit identities and they seem to have become stronger than party identities, a new academic report finds. Only one in 16 people did not have a Brexit identity, while more than one in five said they had no party identity. Sir John Curtice’s latest analysis of public opinion on a further referendum finds there has been no decisive shift in favour of another referendum. The report, Brexit and public opinion 2019, by The UK in a Changing Europe, provides an authoritative, comprehensive and up-to-date guide to public opinion on each of the key issues around Brexit. CCC Fellow, Dr Coree Brown Swan contributed a chapter on "the SNP, Brexit and the politics of independence"

  • 22nd January 2019

    In the papers accompanying the draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill published at the end of 2018, the UK Government says that it is “exploring opportunities to co-design the final proposals with the devolved administrations.” There are clear benefits in having strong co-operation and collaboration across the UK in the oversight of our environmental law and performance. Yet the challenge of finding a way forward in terms of working together is substantial since each part of the UK is in a different position at present. Given where things stand today, it may be better to accept that a good resolution is not possible immediately and to revisit the issue at a later stage - so long as there is a strong commitment to return and not allow interim arrangements to become fixed. Colin Reid, Professor of Environmental Law at the University of Dundee examines the issues.

  • 17th January 2019

    Richard Parry assesses a memorable day in UK parliamentary history as the Commons splits 432-202 on 15 January 2019 against the Government's recommended Brexit route. It was the most dramatic night at Westminster since the Labour government’s defeat on a confidence motion in 1979.

  • 17th January 2019

    What is the Irish government’s Brexit wish-list? The suggestion that Irish unity, as opposed to safeguarding political and economic stability, is the foremost concern of the Irish government is to misunderstand and misrepresent the motivations of this key Brexit stakeholder, writes Mary C. Murphy (University College Cork).

  • 17th January 2019

    Brexit is in trouble but not because of the Irish backstop, argues the CCC's Michael Keating.

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